The Medieval and Modern Language (MML) course is one of Cambridge’s most popular and most students do enjoy it; however, it is understandable that choosing your two languages can be quite daunting. You must find a balance between choosing languages you feel comfortable with, but also maybe wanting to be challenged by a new language.
The MML department offers a wide range of languages, such as German, Italian, Russian, Spanish as well as Arabic. They also offer French and Latin, but these cannot be taken as 'ab initio' languages. 'Ab initio' simply means “from the beginning.”
The workload for whether you pick two post A-Level languages, or one post A-Level language alongside an 'ab initio' one, is the same, but 'ab initio' classes in first year are very much grammar heavy.
When choosing your languages, obviously one must take in enjoyment - one of my friends chose to study 'ab initio' Italian, because they love film studies and there was a whole module of Italian New Wave Cinema. When applying, it is recommended to look at potential cultural topics on your preferred languages to see if you can learn about something that might interest you.
Moreover, if you want to choose an 'ab initio' language, use apps like Duolingo and Memrise to see if you enjoy learning the grammar of that language. Another one of my friends chose to study Spanish 'ab initio' because the grammar was nothing like their post A-Level language, German - they also watched Money Heist and wanted to spend their year abroad and summer vacations somewhere nice and warm.
Consequently, it is also worth looking to the future, and which languages would be most beneficial for you to learn, be it for jobs or maybe wanting to visit countries you may not have been able to have as much access to with that language barrier.
'Ab initio' language teaching is fast-paced and intensive, but that is pretty much the same for all courses across the University, so do not let this put you off!
To find out more about life as an MML student studying an 'ab initio' language, but also to get advice, there is a great Varsity article 🔗 🌟 linked here that goes really in-depth about true experiences from an undergraduate.